About the Ark
Our mission is simple: To provide an opportunity to allow creative work to be expressed and enjoyed in the Viroqua community and the Driftless Region.
The vision of the Ark is to create a comprehensive intergenerational performance and teaching facility for creativity and the arts that inspires individual and group expression. We see this project bringing economic and social value to the citizens of Viroqua, Vernon County, and the greater Driftless/Southwest Wisconsin region.
Building The Ark
We are creating a visual and performing arts community center called the ARK, at the church on 401 East Jefferson in Viroqua. Five founding members came together with the vision of supporting and inspiring the arts within the community, and the church felt like the perfect location. While trying to raise money to buy the church for $50k, a very generous local philanthropist wrote a check for the purchase price. Since we purchased the building on May 8, 2012 we have also received a pledge of $25k more when we raise a matching amount for it! The 50K that we raise will give us a good start in reaching our goal of 250K for the next three years of operation. In May we filed articles of incorporation with the state as Artists and Friends, Inc. a non-profit corporation. On Sep 1, 2012 we submitted a completed application for tax exemption under 501(c)3 with the IRS, as a charitable and educational organization.
We are refurbishing and cleansing the building now, tearing out paneling, carpeting and drop ceilings. We are uncovering the maple flooring and making plans to refinish it. We are opening all the doors and windows to let air and sunshine in.
The ARK has a beautiful octagonal sanctuary, which we will convert into a performance venue for music, dance and theater. We also envision creating open studios spaces for intergenerational classes, and open studio time. We are planning to create various studios including: a sewing/fiber arts studio, a 2D studio for drawing and painting, a creative writing center, a main gallery and smaller sub-galleries, and a space for dance/movement. There is also a functional kitchen that we plan on being used as a multi-age teaching kitchen for the culinary arts.
In the basement we envision creating studios for the industrial arts such as: ceramics, printing, woodwork, and metals. An audio/visual studio is in early stages of development for the basement as well.
Our first year in operation will focus on hosting regular and special events within the performance venue and adjoining Dance Hall. We hope to begin educational programming beginning in the the Summer of 2013 with a children’s summer program. Other educational offerings will consist of weekend and week long intensives and workshops.
Overall, we see the ARK as a sanctuary for the nurturing of creativity and the arts within the Driftless region.